Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh rejected an application from Illinois Republicans challenging the governor’s ban on political activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kavanaugh, a conservative member of the high court, declined the emergency request (which was placed to him by geography alone) that complained that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, allowed religious gatherings and protests but not political rallies or gatherings beyond 50 people.
The news was first reported by Fox News’s Bill Mears and Shannon Bream on Saturday.
Kavanaugh declined the request without comment.
“For now, the Northwest Side GOP Club will respect Justice Kavanaugh‘s denial of an emergency injunction,” Matt Podgorski, the chairman of the Northwest Side GOP Club, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Washington Examiner.
“Our case and our plea are very straightforward. The governor of Illinois is arbitrarily picking and choosing which parts of the First Amendment he wants to protect and which he wants to violate,” Podgorski added. “His executive order denies the Northwest Side GOP Club of both our 1st Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of (political) speech in the form of political activity and our 14th Amendment rights of equal protection under the law.”
The Washington Examiner also reached out to the other plaintiffs and Pritzker’s office for comment.
Republicans argued Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders exceeded his lawful authority as governor, issuing multiple challenges on the federal and county court levels on First Amendment grounds. GOP officials won on the county level, but Pritzker has succeeded on the federal level.
Clay County Judge Michael McHaney sided with a GOP legislature on the matter earlier this week, stating that Pritzker’s orders became void on April 8. However, the governor’s office said circuit court decisions were equally as valid and ruled the opposite.
In May, Pritzker’s orders twice survived challenges on the grounds of religious liberty violations after extending social distancing protocols past the month of April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier on, it categorized freedom of religion as “essential” but did not advise gatherings beyond 10 people.
This is breaking news and will be updated.